SwimWest Swim School History

Founded in 1990, SwimWest Swim School offers one of the industry’s most dynamic swim curriculums in Dane County, and we are one of only three swim schools in Wisconsin approved by the United Swim School Association.

With our systematic approach to water education, we’re able to track and acknowledge our students’ progress at each stage of development, offering the encouragement and training they need to be safe and successful. We are proud to have now trained over 100,000 students!

But just as important as what we teach is what we believe.

At SwimWest, our philosophy is to provide all children, regardless of age, race, or special needs, the best aquatic experience, to teach the necessary skills to be safer in the water, to nurture a love of swimming, and to educate parents about water safety and the aquatic learning process.

Through it all, we work to develop each child’s self-esteem and feel that creating happy swimmers is a gift that will last a lifetime.

Not only are we the only local swim school certified and approved by the elite United States Swim School Association, we also are involved with the World Aquatic Baby Congress, the Safer Three program, and the Safe Kids Coalition.

About Karen Kittelson

karen history

Founder & CEO

Karen Kittelson launched SwimWest School of Instruction in 1990. Though she started in hotel pools and health clubs, she quickly grew her business to the point that the dream of opening her own facility became a reality–SwimWest locations are now on Madison’s West Side and Fitchburg.

Karen graduated from the University of Minnesota with a major in Sports Management and Exercise Physiology. Since that time, the United States Swim School Association (USSSA) has awarded her over 15 teaching awards, welcoming her as a member of their board of directors on two separate occasions.

She is certified as an American Red Cross Instructor for CPR/First Aid, Oxygen Administration, Blood borne Pathogens, Lifeguarding, Beachfront Lifeguarding, and Water Safety Instruction. Karen is also a Certified Pool Operator, Certified Arthritic Water Aerobics Instructor, and has Infant/Toddler Swim Instruction Certifications through the USSSA.

Karen is now invited to speak internationally on topics including swim school management, elite swim instruction, customer service, and crisis management.